e-Travel is​ one of the top 10 online companies in selling flight tickets in the world and one of the most successful start up companies in Greece​, with a sales volume of 700 million and climbing. The company is growing more and more each year.

We want to do many things. We need people to help us do them. Nowadays though, with Greece in crisis, it has become harder for companies to find software engineers to cover their needs.

We decided to do something about this, something that we believe is innovative. We decided to gear up e-Travel by gearing up young and passionate junior developers with the company’s tech stack (and not only).

We named the project GearUP and on March 2017, we launched gear-up.e-travel.gr, a website with information about what it is, how it works and how candidates could participate.

From that point on and until this very moment, surprises is all we get.

Behind the scenes

More than 250 developers expressed their interest to join the project.

We had about 15 submissions per day. We had to process all these CVs and select the candidates that would move on to the next phase based on the project’s criteria, while being very careful not to do anyone injustice.

We were doing this for the first time, so we had many discussions before deciding to use an online coding test tool to assess the CS skills of the candidates. Given the number of contestants, this was the only way to go, otherwise we would have to organize a series of technical interviews allocating too many resources (both infrastructure- and people-wise) for an extended period of time.

So, candidates made their effort (and we thank them for that) and we then further evaluated the online test tool submissions one by one. We listed the submissions with the higher scores and we started scheduling the interviews (even via Skype for candidates not living in Athens).

About 25 interviews later, we concluded to the four candidates that would join the initiative and spread the good news: we’re starting on May 8th!

Ready, set, action

We warned the people that it wouldn’t be easy. The training would be intensive.

They didn’t care, they came smiling.

Figure 1 Presenting the GearUP team

Being the mentor of the team, I had to think and prepare the concepts that we wanted to cover in this 6 month period. We didn’t want to end up having university-like lectures and it was pretty clear that the right direction was one: hands-on people.

We did have theory sessions especially in the beginning, but most of the time the team had to:

  • think solutions,
  • code them, and
  • experiment with tools

And the Oscar goes to

After a couple of weeks, we started working on a simple idea that would cover many of the GearUP curriculum items and that potentially could be of some use for e-Travel.

And it did. Meet e-Travel’s new support page!

Figure 2

We gave the project the codename FAQurious and we had it go live on August 2nd.

That means that in two months the GearUP team:

  • implemented a new web service for searching support topics
  • integrated the new support functionality in e-Travel’s sites
  • created an internal tool for managing the support topics
  • got all the above in production

Figure 3

Huge surprise. We didn’t expect this, especially considering that part of the work involved working in an existing codebase. Team members also were happy to see that their work was now part of the company’s production environment.

Techwise, the team has already worked with Git, Ruby, Ruby on Rails, Amazon RDS & EC2, Elasticsearch, Kibana, MS Windows & Ubuntu, Google collaboration tools, Atom, PostgreSQL, MySQL, Amazon Redshift, GitLab for code reviews, RSpec, Cucumber, Selenium, Linux shell,

Figure 4

At the moment, the team just entered the Microsoft world learning C# while working on two new exciting projects with .NET Web API 2. At the end of next month, the first round of the GearUP project ends. The members will be absorbed by other e-Travel teams giving space for the next GearUP round. Stay tuned!

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